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Monday, March 17, 2008

220 cities - F*ck-Off Day Last Saturday

Beppe Grillo the comedian well known for his fierce attacks against the political class, with his crowded .Fuck Off Days..


Last saturday, in about 220 Italian cities the V-Day took place.

Beppe Grillo, whose blog you can find on the leftbar links, was the main organizer and eventer of the day.
Something in between the D-Day of the landing in Normandy and a big vaffanculo (which I believe being so international not to need any translation) it was a day where tons of my fellow compatriots gathered to demonstrate against the 25 (25!) convicted MPs sitting in the Italian Parliament. If you add the ones who only had first grade conviction or whose trial is still running the number grows up to 80.

As higly predictable, the event had very little or no media coverage; nevertheless millions of people were demonstrating and some major accomplishments have been achieved: most prominent, 300.000 signatures were obtained for the introducing a bill of law for forbidding election of proved guilty politicians in the parliament and for the reform of the current electoral law, which doesn't actually allow people to choose the candidate they would go for, but only the party, with the candidates being listed beoforehand by the parties leader. Despite the premises, the V-Day was a great success, in terms of partecipation at least. I wouldn't be so optimistic about the Parliament passing the law bill, at least in a reasonable time, but we will see about that.

But here, following the dem. from far away, I was actually wondering: why was it necessary?

In other European countries I know, a MP involved in a scandal or, even worst, convicetd for a crime, would immediately resign. Sadly, in Italy it just ain't so.
It is like something is missing, a missing pawl that you may either name "shame" or "respect for voters" or simply "responsibility". It is hard to say where this pawl should be located in the whole machine, or where it is located in other democracies.

Just to make some examples (very few, otherwise this post is going to be as long as hell), Cesare Previti
, several times under trials and convicted for many crimes, once openly admitted he had done tax-dodging. When he said that, he was a minister of the first Berlusconi's government in 1994 but, of course, he didn't resign. Former governor of Banca d'Italia, Antonio Fazio, kept his seat for several months after his absolutely unfair relations with many Italian bankers were revealed. the old Mp Gustavo Selva once hijacked an ambulance for his own purposes (getting in time to a talk show!), first lying and then threatening the doctors and attendants, committing at least a crime. But he didn't resign.
This summer another MP, the ultra catholic Cosimo Mele, was found in an hotel room with two whores and a lot of cocaine. Well, prostitution isn't illegal, but drug is. Guess what? He's still there.
The examples would be countless. Media talk about these things, but those people just don't feel like they should answer or give explanations of any sort. I would bet in Denmark, or Germany, or UK, or France, discovering such things would have immediately brought to resigning.

Why is it then different in Italy? What's the missing pawl?

I think it would be a way too simple to say they're different cultures and the likes. Let's put it this way: if, say, a British MP was found while enjoying himself with whores and cocaine, why would he feel forced to resign? What mechanism would push him towards getting on his way home?

First of all, I think the Parliament wouldn't stand on his side but rather start an inquiry, exposing the MP to a serie of humiliating procedures. Then, I assume there would be pressures from his own party, willing to get rid of a person potentially noxious for the party's image before voters (this happened, for example, to German former Chancellor Helmut Kohl when he was involved in a finance scandal - and that was the guy who reunified the country!). So, he would most likely be spontaneously marginalized by his own collegues, rather than comforted like somebody who had a little accident!

And, last but not least, the media would tear him apart every day, until resignment. This should be the traditional role of medias, that of being the fierce but true expression of people's outrage.
There we go: maybe that's what Italy is mostly missing: aggressive, cynical and straight media, the guard dog of popular justice. Maybe populist, but without partialities, truly reflecting the citizens' feelings.
Next to, comes naturally, an electoral law where the voters, and no the parties, are to decide who is going to represent them.

Well, the V-Day was a success though, and that's what counts for now ;)


Italy: Comic Beppe Grillo's blog ranked world's 9th most influential

Rome, 10 March (AKI) - Popular Italian comedian and political commentator Beppe Grillo's blog is the ninth most influential in the world, according to Britain's Sunday Observer magazine.

Due to the number of hits it receives, Grillo's blog is ranked more influential than the Drudge Report blog which takes 11th place.

The Drudge Report gained world fame in 1998 after it scooped a scurrilous rumour - untouched by mainstream media - about a sexual liaison between then-US president Bill Clinton and a White House intern called Monica Lewinsky.

Recent Drudge Report scoops include Barack Obama dressed in a turban and Britain's Prince Harry's tour of duty in Afghanistan

The Genovese comedian's rants against corruption and financial scandal have long made him the scourge of Italy's political establishment and persona non grata on state TV.

Grillo's blog ( has called for the people of the southern Italian city of Naples and the region of Campania to declare independence over the ongoing refuse crisis and has requested that Germany declare war on Italy to help its people. "We will throw violets and mimosa to your Franz and Gunther as they march through," he says.

An ongoing campaign on Grillo's blog is to introduce a Bill of Popular Initiative to remove from office all members of the Italian parliament who've ever had a criminal conviction.

Grillo's rallied thousands of marchers in 280 Italian towns and cities for his 'Vaffanculo Day' last September which urged voters to say "F... off" to Italy's "self-perpetuating" politicians and political parties

The world's most influential blog is that of millionairess Ariana Huffington, acccording to the Observer. Her Huffington Post blog, which began in 2005, revolutionised the concept of the political blog and is the most widely read news paper on the Internet.


ROME, Feb 28 (Reuters) - A growing number of young Italians plan to show their dismay with national politics by turning in invalid ballots in April's election, egged on by email campaigns and calls to boycott the familiar cast of ageing politicians.

Voting for Italy's 62nd post-war government comes amid a deepening sense of gloom, and few are as disillusioned with the squabbling political class as Italians in their 20s and 30s.

They expect little to change no matter who comes to power.

"It's always the same faces, the same politicians who give no hope things will get any better," said Niccolo Parri, 31, a doctor who plans to turn in an empty ballot.

He is one of many attracted by the words of comedians like Beppe Grillo, who has urged Italians to say "F..k off" to politicians, and Rosario Fiorello, who last week told Italians to "tear up their ballots and throw them in the streets".

About 6 to 8 percent of voters -- mainly young people in the north -- have been swept up in the "anti-politics" movement, estimates the pollster Luigi Crespi.

"We'll see a major increase in the number of protest votes and the number of people writing 'Vaffanculo' (F..k off) on the ballot form or handing in blank ballots," Crespi said.

He estimates the number of blank ballots will nearly triple to about 1 million during the April 13-14 election from about 400,000 in the last parliamentary election two years ago.

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